KUANTAN, 8 SEPTEMBER 2013: Pahang Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan bin Haji Yaakob today officially launched The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Open Day with The Rakyat (Hari Terbuka ECER Bersama Rakyat), organised by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council in conjunction with ECER’s fifth anniversary.

Held at Padang MPK2 here today, the Open Day showcased the success stories of ECER projects and programmes since the establishment of the economic corridor five years ago that have benefitted the rakyat in the state. This is in line with ECER’s 5th year anniversary theme, namely, “Accelerating Transformation. Empowering the Rakyat”. The public also took part in various exciting activities lined up during the one-day event.

In his address, the Menteri Besar said he was proud that Pahang led the way in terms of investments in ECER, with RM23.55 billion worth of investments recorded over the past five years, that would create 24,100 jobs locally. The investment amount is nearly half of the RM50 billion of investments attracted by ECER within the same period.

He was also pleased with the social focus of ECERDC projects and programmes that have enabled the participation of the poor and rural communities in Pahang in ECER’s transforming economy.

“ECERDC’s poverty eradication and human capital development programmes have already proven successful in raising income levels and living standards of the rakyat in Pahang, ” said YAB Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan.

ECERDC Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John attributed the success of ECER’s projects and programmes in Pahang to the support given by the State Government under the leadership of Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan.

“With his unwavering support and commitment, ECERDC has been able to bring to fruition a wide variety of programmes and projects that are being implemented across the state,” said Dato’ Issace.

“Equally important is the support and participation of the rakyat of Pahang. They have demonstrated that they have the right attitude, aptitude and talent to transform their lives and in doing so, they are also contributing towards the transformation of the state,” said Dato’ Issace.

One of ECERDC’s success stories is empower ECER, a human capital development programme which aims to improve the academic performance of the students and raise the income levels of disadvantaged adults in ECER.

empower ECER consists of two components, namely, Academic Training programme for examination-year students with weak academic achievement and hail from poor families, while the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme targets single mothers, unemployed youths, the disabled and other less fortunate individuals in the Region.

Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan was proud and pleased that the first empower ECER programme was launched in Bentong in 2010. It has since expanded to other locations in Pahang, namely Lipis, Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highlands, Raub and Kuala Pahang following the success of the pilot project. To date, 8,397 students in Pahang have benefitted from empower ECER.

Equally encouraging is the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme that has benefited 5,225 adults in Pahang. They are now either self-employed or employed in better paying jobs. On average, their incomes have grown up to RM5,000 per month, and there are even a few earning as much as RM20,000 a month.

Another human capital development programme implemented by ECERDC is the ECER Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EEDP) which was launched in 2012. Conducted in collaboration with SIRIM and Agrobank, EEDP targets small and medium industries, as well as the Bumiputera Commercial and Investment Community (BCIC). EEDP participants are provided with product and marketing training, as well as financial assistance to grow their business. To date, EEDP has benefited 210 entrepreneurs in Pahang, from the total 580 in ECER states.

ECERDC’s Pekan Agropolitan, a poverty eradication project in implemented in Runchang, Batu 8 in Mukim Lepar and Tanjung Batu has already benefitted 415 households in Pahang, including the Orang Asli community. In addition to being employed in agriculture-related projects undertaken by ECERDC, such as Dorper sheep rearing and oil palm plantation, participants are provided with new houses, complete with community facilities.

“The Agropolitan participants were previously earning about RM350 a month. Now, their income has increased to about RM1,100 a month after joining the programme and we forecast that they can earn as much as RM5,000 a month by 2020,” said the Menteri Besar.

Agropolitan participants are also provided on-the-job training, motivational and money management training to help them build a brighter future. The families also have the opportunity to earn additional income from secondary economic activities. Children of the Agropolitan community also took part in Sinar ECER academic programme and empower ECER, both of which are conducted by ECERDC.

Between 2010 and 2013, the Federal Government allocated nearly RM200 million to implement 448 infrastructure and socioeconomic projects in the former areas of Pahang Tenggara Development Authority (DARA) and Lembaga Kemajuan Wilayah Jengka (LKWJ) in ECER, including traditional villages, under the Special Fund initiative which have benefitted some 494,000 rakyat. A key project here is the construction of Jengka Sentral, a brand new, integrated transport terminal to replace the old one. The new terminal offers more convenience and comfort to the public transport users, as well as business opportunities for the locals to cater to the needs of commuters.

A primary catalyst for economic growth of the region is the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ), which stretches from Kertih in Terengganu to Kuantan and Pekan in Pahang. It houses several world class industrial parks such as the Gebeng Integrated Petrochemical Park, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park,Pekan Automotive Park and Gambang Halal Park. ECER SEZ has already attracted well-known investors such as BASF Petronas, Kaneka Group, DRB-HICOM, Volkswagen, Mercedes and the Guangxi Beibu International Port Group.

A high impact strategic project in ECER SEZ that benefits both the rakyat and industries is the Panching Water Treatment Plant that was officially handed over by ECERDC to Pahang State Government on Saturday, during the launch of the Kuantan Port Expansion project by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The project will ensure uninterrupted water supply in Kuantan and Kuantan Port City areas, and is expected to boost Kuantan Port City’s positioning as an investment destination.